In October 2007, we were on holiday in Zanzibar and we’d gone out for our evening meal and as we were sat having a drink by the pool, Simon made an excuse to nip back to the room. A couple of hours later when we got back to the room, as I was getting undressed and ready for bed, I noticed a ring box on my pillow, surrounded by rose petals. Simon took the box and opened it and asked me to marry him! I said yes!
Did you have hen and stag celebrations? If so, what did you do?
I went to Hoar Cross Hall for a spa weekend with friends and had a lovely, relaxing pampering weekend – time out from the stress of planning! Simon went to Harrogate with his friends for a weekend of paint balling, quad biking and drinking – typical man!
How did your groom help with the wedding planning?
Mostly he left the planning to me – certain things like flowers and bridesmaids dresses he wanted very little say in! However he had the main say on the groomsmen’s outfits, and set up a budget spreadsheet to keep tabs on my spending!
Did you use confetti to plan your wedding? If so, how did the website help you?
Throughout planning my wedding I was on Confetti most nights, checking the forums for useful hints and tips, entering competitions and reading useful articles.
Do you have a confetti web page?
Yes, I set up a confetti web page which was a godsend as we were able to list local accommodation, taxi numbers and directions on it. We then added a small card inside the wedding invitations, with our web page address on so that guests could easily access all this useful info.
Did you buy any confetti products for your wedding? If so, did you visit a store, buy online or by mail order?
Yes, I bought the silver table number holders, which went perfectly with the silver and white theme we had in our reception room.
Tell us about your outfit, and where you bought it
My gorgeous dress was by Essence of Australia – style D785 – and I bought it from Beau Belles in Borrowash, Derbyshire – which is like a tardis full to brimming with luscious dresses and accessories!! I went round most of the shops in Derby before finding my perfect dress there. It was pearl – a very unusual and pretty colour. It is strapless, made of angel satin, with masses of sparkly crystals on and is very fitted around the top and then flairs out in a fishtail style at the bottom, with several folds of satin cascading vertically across the front of the dress and round to one side. I also bought an ivory satin bolero style jacket with faux fur collar and cuffs to wear over the top as it was a chilly winter’s day.
Did you have bridesmaids? If so, who did you choose and what did they wear?
I decided I didn’t want adult bridesmaids so I had a 12 year old (Simon’s boss’s daughter), a 5 year old and a 2 year old (two sisters who are daughters of a friend). The 12 year old, Bella, had a claret satin Hilary Morgan dress, with spaghetti straps, and a split down the front with ivory satin underneath. The 5 year old, Cezanne, and the 2 year old, Elise, both had claret satin Alfred Angelo dresses, with a split down the side, with ivory satin underneath. They all looked lovely!
Who did your groom choose for his best man and ushers, and what did they wear?
Simon chose his best friend from school to be his best man (Rob Young) and two other close friends as ushers (Rob Smallwood and Rob Gwynn). So they were collectively known as the 3 Robs! They wore black tail coats with black and grey pinstripe trousers, ivory wing collared shirts, claret cravats and handkerchiefs and ivory waistcoats with claret coloured swirls. Simon wore the same except he had an ivory waistcoat with gold swirls.
Did you have a civil or religious ceremony?
We had a church ceremony in the church that Simon got Christened in, his parents got married in and his (late) gran was a regular member of the congregation of. Unfortunately, a few weeks before the wedding Simon’s gran died and it was very sad that she wasn’t able to see her grandson get married in her church.
Where did you hold your ceremony?
We held the ceremony at St Peter’s Church in Littleover.
Where did you hold your reception?
We held the ceremony at an amazing venue called Blackbrook House in Belper, Derbyshire.
Did you have any special wedding transport?
We had a 1930s style Beauford, which was silver with claret leather interior and looked stunning in the photos.
How many guests did you invite to your wedding, and did you have a separate evening guest list?
We had 69 guests to the church and afternoon reception and a further 35 in the evening.
Did your reception have a particular theme in terms of colour or style?
We decided we’d like to get married in December so we could have a festive theme to the day as we both love Christmas and thought it would be lovely to have Christmas trees and decorations in the photos, etc. So we had claret and gold as our main colours for bridesmaids, groomsmen, bouquet, button holes, stationery, etc. Blackbrook House, where we had the reception is exclusive use and you have several rooms to use so we had this colour theme in all the ‘arrival’ rooms (the drawing room and garden room) and the entrance hall. But as a surprise to our guests we decided to go with a winter wonderland theme in the Terrace room, which is where we had our meal. So that was all decorated in pure white and silver and had approx 10 Christmas tress lined up along the wall decoration with fairy lights and silver hearts. It looked magical.
How did you incorporate this in to your table settings?
The table centrepieces were tall lily vases with white oriental lilies, with leaves sprayed silver, mixed in with silver twigs and fairy lights. The table cloths and napkins were white, we had silver charger plates and small white crackers at each place setting, which I’d decorated with a silver snowflake and silver ribbons. On the top table we had a long silver and white flower/foliage decoration.
Did you give your guests favours?
We wanted to make the evening guests feel included in the day so we decided to put our favours out late in the evening by the exit so that people could take one as they left (rather than just day guests getting one with their meal). They were gold pyramid shaped boxes, which I decorated with a red heart jewel and contained 5 Hersheys kisses.
Describe your flowers (bouquets and table decorations). Who was your florist?
The table decorations are as described above. My bouquet was a minimalist trailing burgundy calla lily bouquet with just a small amount of bear grass. For the bridesmaids I chose a burgundy calla lily and white orchid parallel bouquet for Bella (12), a gold wand with a red rose attached for Cezanne (5) and an ivory teddy bear holding a red rose for Elise (2). My florist was Linda Jones, owner of Amaryllis Floral Design at Morley, Derbyshire.
What did you choose to have on your menu? Did you have an outside caterer or did your venue handle the catering?
As we got married quite early, at 12pm, we knew we’d have to provide plenty of food as many people wouldn’t have eaten. So on arrival at Blackbrook, we served canapes: Cones of mini fish and chips, Miniature Toulouse sausages with sweet pear chutney, Cheddar cheese and celery pate on apple slices, Hot roast smoked salmon with onion relish and Mozzerella and tomato parcels. We followed this by a 4 course meal: Starter – Warm tartlet of goats cheese and caramelised red onions, sat on a bed of watercress, pine nuts and balsamic vinegar. Intermediate course – Swede veloute served in an espresso cup with a parsnip crisp. Main – Derbyshire fillet of beef with a rich red wine gravy, served with Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes and roasted winter veg. Vegetarian main – Roasted butternut squash and parsnip bake, served with all the same trimmings as the meat option. Dessert – Trio of puds: Sticky toffee pudding with sticky sauce, Passionfruit cheesecake and Chocolate and Cointreau Pots. In the evening we served cheese and port, which included: a 5-tier cheese cake (savoury cheese cake!), along with other cheeses, pates and vegetarian pates, crackers, bread, a huge fruit platter and port. Then at 10.30pm we served turkey and stuffing rolls and brie and cranberry croissants. Blackbrook House provided all the catering and it was delicious. Apparently the beef was the best a lot of people had ever tasted – I wouldn’t know as I’m vegetarian! But all the food was superb.
What did you choose for your wedding cake, and who made it?
We had a three tier fruit cake, which was made up of 3 square layers, with the middle tier sitting directly on top of the bottom tier but at an angle (like a diamond shape), then the top tier sitting on top of a plastic stand on the middle tier. The cake had a shimmery silver coating on the white icing and was decorated simply but effectively with sprayed pine cones. We ordered the cake through The Butler’s Pantry at Mickleover (who got it from a baker).
Did you have any entertainment during the day or evening?
We hired a choir to sing Christmas carols at the church, before I arrived and during the signing of the register. We also had carols as our hymns – Silent Night and Once in Royal David’s City and the choir joined in with those too. While our guests were having arrival drinks and canapes and throughout the receiving line we had a saxophonist playing both Christmas and non-Christmas tunes. In the evening we did a foxtrot to our first dance song (Fly me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra) – after having just 4 lessons! We then had a DJ and also a singer, Dom Brister, who did 2 x 45 minute sets – the first was a swing set and the second was a more upbeat dancy set.
Did you have a gift list? If so, who did you have your list with?
We had a gift list with John Lewis.
Where did you spend your first night and honeymoon? Who did you book your honeymoon with?
Simon had booked a hotel as a surprise for our first night. It was at Makeney Hall Hotel in Makeney, Derbyshire and he booked us the bridal suite, which was lovely. As we wanted to be at home with family over Christmas, we decided to go to New York for 4 nights after the wedding and then we went to the Maldives for 10 nights and Dubai for 6 nights in January. We booked our honeymoon through a local travel agent called Travelounge in Borrowash, Derbyshire and the holiday was with If Only…
What was your most memorable moment of the day?
Definitely the church, walking down the aisle and realising that I wasn’t at all nervous and felt completely happy and at ease. Also, seeing the Terrace room all decorated in silver and white and seeing how magical it looked with all the sparkly tress and everyone’s wonderful comments about how much they’d enjoyed the day.
Did you experience any “nightmare” moments in the run up to your wedding or on the day?
Two minor things – My regular hairdresser of 4 years did a disappearing act 3 months before the wedding so I had to find another hair dresser I was happy with. Luckily I found an amazing hair dresser called Lizzie from Sally Montague’s in Derby and she did a fantastic job. The other problem we had was our DJ had to cancel as he had to have his leg amputated a couple of months before the wedding. Luckily he recommended someone else and he did it for the same price and turned out to be good – phew!
Is there anything you would do differently, or any advice you would give to other brides?
I wouldn’t do a single thing differently as it was my perfect day! The best piece of advice I would give to brides, whether winter or summer brides, is get yourself a white wedding umbrella, just in case it rains! It rained on our day but because I’d bought a white umbrella in advance it didn’t matter and actually looks good in the photos! Also – make sure it’s white as it won’t cast shadows on your face in photos the same way a black one would.